Dr. Steve’s “Spinal” Column —
The Benefits of Drumming

by Dr. Steve Koc, Chiropractic Physician

Susie wanted me to write about the benefits of drumming so we could justify certain expenses to the IRS. And speaking of justifying, let me digress for a moment. With St. Valentine’s day approaching, there will probably be news stories touting the health benefits of eating dark chocolate and drinking red wine. The media will inform us that these high caloric, empty foods contain anti-oxidants, the same good stuff that you’d find in fruits, veggies, and your multi-vitamin. And it’s true. But let’s get real here. Whatever good the anti-oxidants do for our system is easily over-shadowed by the negative effects of the sugar, sulfites, and alcohol that come along with the package. We might as well rationalize eating a whole pint of ice cream for all the calcium we would be getting! Hmmmmm? I wonder if Hagen-Dazs makes a dark chocolate with red wine swirl!

But back to drumming. What is this drumming thing about? Why am I promoting it? Is it better for you than chocolate and wine? What about combining chocolate and drumming? Is that legal in Oregon? Wouldn’t it be messy?

Although there are no studies to confirm anything I am about to say, it is all true. How do I know this? Because I wouldn’t make it up if it weren’t. Everyone innately knows how to drum! We each spent many months in our mother’s womb listening to her heartbeat, a steady rhythm… lub, dub… lub, dub… lub, dub. This natural beat is entrained into our nervous system and can be tapped into once again, no matter how musically challenged or “uncreative” we may think we are. A lot of adults discover through drumming that they have numerous creative abilities that have been hidden away. Children learn to expand their interests. There is no “right” or “wrong” way to express yourself drumming. There are guidelines and it is helpful to study techniques, but many people discover that they already know how to drum once they give themselves permission to go for it.

I have amassed a collection of percussion instruments which means you do not have to have your own drum to come and try it out (Dr. Steve facilitates the Wednesday night drum circle in Salem). And in order for these instruments, I mean therapeutic devices, to be declared as tax write-offs, I give the following sound scientific reasoning:

  1. Drumming is good for your immune system — it is a fact that sound waves have a profound effect on the cells of our bodies. Ultrasound is used for healing scar tissue and reducing inflammation. Classical music is played for babies to help brain and nerve development. Our immune systems will produce more disease fighting cells when exposed to a 3/4-waltz beat. When it comes to drumming, you can create many different beats and realize an equal number of effects. One basic drum technique is to mimic a heartbeat and get lost in the simplicity of it. It can be that easy. It is my theory that a good drumming session is equal to or better for your health than a dark chocolate bar and a glass of red wine. Maybe someone should study combining all three of them into a winning combination for longevity and good health. Any volunteers?
  2. Drumming is good for your mental health — ever want to pound on something and scream? Ever feel anxious or shaky from the adrenaline in your system? Have you ever experienced stress? If you answered yes to one or more of the above, then may I suggest that you come to a drumming circle where you can pound and scream along with 40-50 other crazy people just like yourself? The release is phenomenal! It’s as if you were packing up your tension and troubles and sending them off with the sound waves. Creating music with drums is an active form of meditation. Often in the drum trance state-of-mind questions are answered, problems are solved, and clarity is achieved because the thinking (left) brain is put on hold and we allow our intuitive (right) brain to rule for a little while.
  3. Drumming is good for your spirit — expressing yourself in a free-form, non-judgemental, improvisational environment like a drum circle can allow you to tap into a very strong spiritual connections. It’s primitive. It’s basic. It’s part of us.

There you have it, drumming as a comprehensive holistic therapy for body, mind, and spirit.
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